New Zealand Bans K2 Substances

Police in the country say the synthetic cannabinoids are increasingly linked to crimes.

New Zealand police said they welcome a ban on two substances found in K2 synthetic cannabis and will be vigilant in enforcing the new law. The ban of BB-22 and 5F-AKB48, which have been found in K2 products, was initiated by Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne under the Temporary Class Drug Notice legislation and began May 9.

"There is significant community concern over the impact the current products on the market are having throughout the country, particularly on vulnerable young people, and this ban is a positive step," said Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush. "There is no question that police and health agencies are increasingly experiencing first-hand the negative consequences of these products. Aside from the potentially serious health effects such as increased heart-rate and seizures, police are finding that K2 and similar substances are becoming an increasingly concerning factor in a number of crimes, including violent offending. This is being driven by people either committing crime to get their hands on these drugs or committing crimes while on them."

He said seven recent aggravated robberies in the Southern Police District had been committed by offenders demanding synthetic cannabis products, with the weapons used ranging from knives to firearms. Synthetic cannabis also was a factor in the case of a 17-year-old Dunedin man recently charged after breaking into 27 vehicles in early 2012.

The two new banned substances are part of a growing list of prohibited chemicals, currently numbering 35. "Police will continue to work under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and with other agencies to proactively enforce the law and to educate the community about the impact of these drugs," Bush said. "Our district neighborhood policing teams have also been actively working in communities and targeting business owners, such as dairies, in order to educate retailers about the potential harm caused through the selling of these products and their legal obligations."

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